A&P to Split American, Canadian Business; COO Culligan Resigns

MONTVALE, N.J. - Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. said on Tuesday it will split its American and Canadian businesses in an effort to revive its struggling U.S. stores, and Elizabeth Culligan will step down as president and chief operating officer.

The Montvale, N.J.-based retailer posted a steeper-than-expected quarterly loss earlier this month after spending heavily to protect market share.

A&P named Brian Piwek as president and chief executive of its newly organized A&P U.S. business. Piwek, who has worked for the company since 1997, previously served as CEO of A&P Canada.

Eric Claus will become CEO of A&P Canada. Claus joins the company from Co-op Atlantic, a retail and wholesale food company based in New Brunswick, Canada, where he was president and CEO.

Claus and Piwek will report to A&P's chairman and CEO Christian Haub, the company said.

"Clearly, our U.S. and Canadian business units are at different stages of development," Haub said in a statement. He said the change should help it improve its U.S. performance and maintain its strong Canadian growth.

As a result of the new structure, Culligan will leave the company to pursue other opportunities, A&P said.

Anticipating more stiff competition, the company said on Oct. 18 it will accelerate cost-cutting and work to improve the flow of goods from suppliers, after reporting disappointing second-quarter results. The credit rating on the retailer's debt was cut to "junk" territory earlier in October by Standard & Poor's, which cited continued pressure on A&P's sales and operating margins as stronger rivals increased promotional activity.
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